Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 | Last Update : 05:08 AM IST
Last month the PM had said that his government had emphasised self-employment and job creation.
New Delhi: The BJP and the Congress locked horns in Rajya Sabha on Monday while participating in a Motion of Thanks on the President’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament.
Making his maiden speech, Amit Shah, BJP president and now a member of the Upper House, ripped into the Congress for its criticism of the government’s economic policies, especially former finance minister P. Chidambaram’s contemptuous dismissal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent claim that even selling pakodas is an instance of job-creation.
“Chidambaram compared pakoda-selling with begging. Those selling pakodas are self-employed. Can you compare them with beggars? It is better for a youth to earn living selling pakodas instead of being unemployed. Making pakodas is not shameful, what is shameful is comparing such a person with a beggar,” Mr Shah said, pointing out that a “chaiwala’s (tea-seller’s) son has become the Prime Minister today.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in Rajya Sabha and sat next to Mr Shah as the BJP chief, initiating the discussion, spoke for over an hour, and told Opposition MPs who interrupted him, “Well, you will have to listen to me for the next six years.”
Last month the PM had said that his government had emphasised self-employment and job creation, for which loans had been disbursed, and that selling pakodas, too, is a job. To this, Mr Chidambaram had said: “By that logic, even begging is a job. Let’s count poor or disabled persons who are forced to beg for a living as ‘employed’ people.”
Mr Shah listed at length his government’s achievements and what he called its “historic work” since it came to power, contrasting it with the Congress governments, which he said had suffered from “acute policy paralysis.”
Asserting that a lot of the government’s effort in the last three years had gone into “paving the potholes” that the Congress had dug in India over “55 years of one-family rule”, Mr Shah attacked the Congress over its chief Rahul Gandhi’s mockery of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as the “Gabbar Singh Tax”.
The GST is not a loot, instead it is for the benefit of the economy, Mr Shah said and went on to add that canards are being spread that the BJP was against GST when it was in Opposition.
He also asked the Congress whether it was inciting people not to pay taxes. “Is a dacoity taking place here? Is legally claiming taxes from people a dacoity? Is this the understanding of people? And where does this Gabbar Singh Tax/GST go? It goes in the bank account of a jawan for giving One Rank, One Pension, it goes in the bank account of widows of martyrs. It goes towards giving the poor women (clean cooking fuel) Ujjwala Yojana,” Mr Shah said.
The BJP chief also pitched for simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, besides touching upon a host of measures taken by his government, including Triple Talaq and the OBC Commission Bill that are stuck in the Upper House.
Mr Modi, who sat in the Upper House for nearly three hours, later tweeted, “A wonderful speech by BJP President Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha.”
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader, took on the ruling party over various issues, including systemic attempts to “polarise” the nation. Mr Azad said that the Modi government is not a “game changer” but just a “name changer,” and listed out schemes of the Congress governments that have been renamed.
“There is only one party and people of their choice and those belonging to them are getting employment and opportunities,” Mr Azad said, and attacked the government saying that today a different form of appeasement is taking place.
“A fear psychosis has set in. You cannot see when you are in power. If someone is scared to talk to the Opposition or transact with them, it is not good for democracy or freedom of speech or even freedom of business.”
Accusing the government of dividing the country, Mr Azad said, “You have divided Shias and Sunnis. Now you are dividing husband and wife. You cannot polarise the nation... Why are you intimidating the minority community who are victims of fear psychosis? You should spare some section. We don’t want this New India. You have polarised it. Return us India of Gandhi where no fear existed.”
Mr Azad also touched upon the agrarian crisis, condition of farmers, situation prevailing in Kashmir and rising unemployment due to the prevailing economic situation in the country.
The discussion on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address is expected to go on for a another day after which the Prime Minister will reply
The President’s address, delivered to both Houses of Parliament assembled together at the commencement of the first session after each general election to Lok Sabha and at the commencement of the first session of each year, is a statement of government policy and is approved by the Cabinet.
Deliberations on this motion allow the Opposition to critically discuss the government’s vision, scope and policies.